Top college prospect Andrew Wiggins follows heart to Kansas

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Wiggins  Sholten Singer
Sholten Singer
Wiggins

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Top prep basketball prospect Andrew Wiggins told a small gathering of family and friends at his high school gym Tuesday that he will play at Kansas.

Then the Huntington Prep star signed his letter-of-intent and officially became a Jayhawk. No big speech. No bands, live TV coverage or props.

Just the way the Wiggins wanted it.

And just like that, Lawrence, Kan., became more of focal point for the upcoming college basketball season.

“I’m looking forward to getting there and just doing my thing,” Wiggins said.

The 6-foot-8 Toronto native chose Kansas over Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.

Wiggins said there wasn’t one particular selling point, taking into account each school’s coaching staff, players and program.

“I just followed my heart,” he said.

Despite the loss of Ben McLemore to the NBA Draft, four of Kansas’ five recruits are considered to be in the top 50 nationally, including guards Conner Frankamp and Wayne Selden, forward Brannen Greene and center Joel Embiid.

Kentucky already had eight signees in what is considered to be its greatest recruiting class ever.

North Carolina’s recruiting class includes McDonald’s All-American big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks.

Then there’s Florida State.

Wiggins’ parents both attended Florida State, and the Seminoles had signed his Huntington Prep teammate and fellow Toronto native, Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Wiggins’ father is former NBA first-round pick Mitchell Wiggins. His mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, was a Canadian Olympic sprinter and silver medalist. Older brother Nick plays guard at Wichita State and another brother, Mitchell Jr., plays at NAIA Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.

“Florida State was great for mom, it was great for dad,” Mitchell Wiggins said. But he recalled telling his son, “it’s your time. It’s not 20-30 years ago. And Florida State (would have been) a great choice.”

But the father said Kansas will “be a great fit. Hopefully Andrew stays humble, stays hungry. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Rather than turn his announcement into a spectacle, Wiggins wanted a private signing ceremony where he attends classes at St. Joseph’s Central Catholic High School in Huntington.

SEC-BIG 12 CHALLENGE: Teams from the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 will meet in basketball next season.

Matchups including Kansas at Florida and Kentucky vs. Baylor in Arlington, Texas.

All 10 Big 12 teams will participate. The SEC’s Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana State University and Tennessee aren’t included the first year.

The 2013 matchups include: Texas Tech at Alabama (Nov. 14), Vanderbilt at Texas and Auburn-Iowa State on Dec. 2. Mississippi visits Kansas State, West Virginia travels to Missouri and TCU plays at Mississippi State on Dec. 5.

The next day, Kentucky and Baylor meet while South Carolina is at Okla­homa State.

The Kansas-Florida game is Dec. 10 while Texas A&M and Oklahoma play in Houston on Dec. 21.

TENNESSEE: Plans to honor former women’s coach Pat Summitt by building an on-campus statue in her honor.

Tennessee athletic department spokesman Jimmy Stanton said the statue would go up “hopefully as soon as in the fall.”


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